8 great games to turn anytime into playtime

discover story image of two girls having a good time

The LEGO Group has teamed up with award-winning play expert, Jessica Joelle Alexander, to create this all-new guide to turning anytime into playtime – no matter how long you’ve got.

Together, we’ve come up with eight super-fun, super-simple games for families to play at home, in the car or anywhere else. And they all come with the added bonus of helping kids develop crucial life skills too.

1,2,3, Play…

Top Tip:

Keeping a few handy items in your bag or in your kitchen drawer can open up a whole world of play possibilities. Here’s my checklist: dice; cards; coins; paper; coloured pencils/pens; and LEGO bricks.

1 - LEGO Creationary

Release your inner builder with this bricky take on a classic drawing game. Great for your child’s creative-thinking, planning and communication skills – and much easier for young kids to play than regular Pictionary too.

What you need

  • LEGO bricks/LEGO DUPLO brick
Top Tip:
For older children, try setting a time limit for building and guessing. Or to make it easier for younger ones, write or draw on a piece of paper what they need to build.
  • Step 1

    Grab your LEGO bricks (or LEGO DUPLO for younger children) and find somewhere with enough space to build.
  • Step 2

    Split players into two (or more) teams.
  • Step 3

    One player from Team 1 builds something while their team-mates try to guess what it is.
  • Step 4

    If they guess it correctly, Team 1 gets a point. If they don’t, Team 2 has a chance to guess and win a point.
  • Step 5

    Play then passes to the next team…and so on.

2 - LEGO Ring toss

Get building then get throwing with this LEGO version of a fairground classic. All while helping your children develop their gross motor skills and ability to win/lose gracefully.

What you need

  • LEGO bricks (or LEGO DUPLO), something to act as a ring
Top Tip:
If you don’t have a suitable ring, try making one out of pipe cleaners or by rolling up a tea towel and tying the ends together.
  • Step 1

    Players team up to build one or more LEGO towers. Ideally the tower(s) should be at least 30cm tall.
  • Step 2

    Place the tower(s) on the ground or flat surface and agree where players will throw from. (This can vary for players of different ages/abilities.)
  • Step 3

    Player 1 has three throws of the ring. The aim is to hook it over the tower(s) to win 10 points.
  • Step 4

    If you’re playing with multiple towers, you can give each one a different points value depending on how close it is to the throwing line.
  • Step 5

    Now it’s Player 2’s turn…and so on.

3 - Mystery Monster

Get the whole family’s creative juices flowing with this entertaining drawing game. It’s great for developing young children’s fine motor and spatial skills too.

What you need

  • Coloured pens/pencils, paper
Top Tip:
If you fancy flexing your building skills instead, try creating your mystery monster out of LEGO or DUPLO bricks. Player 1 makes the head, Player 2 does the body and arms, then Player 3 adds the legs and feet
  • Step 1

    Split your paper into three horizontal sections.
  • Step 2

    Player 1 draws the monster’s head on the top section before folding it over and passing it to Player 2.
  • Step 4

    Also without looking, Player 3 draws the monster’s legs and feet.
  • Step 5

    Unfold the paper to see your mystery monster creation in all its glory!

4 - Alphabet Picnic

A super-simple, super-fun memory game for all the family to play together – at home, in the car, over dinner, anywhere. It’s perfect for honing kids’ memory and language skills too.

What you need

  • Just your brainpower.
discover story image alphabet picnic family playing the game
Top Tip:
To help younger kids get involved, let them bring items all starting with the same letter or forget the memory part completely and simply have fun coming up with a picnic list together.
  • Step 1

    Player 1 begins by saying: “I’m going to a picnic and I’m going to take a [something beginning with the letter A].
  • Step 2

    Play passes to the next player who repeats the phrase, including the letter A item, and adds their own item starting with B.
  • Step 3

    The game keeps moving from player to player. Each time, players have to list all the previous picnic items plus a new one beginning with the next letter in the alphabet.
  • Step 4

    If a player can’t remember all the items, they’re out.
  • Step 5

    The winner is the last person left – and they get to eat the picnic all to themselves!

5 - Coin Bash

Turn your table into a game-zone with this battle of skill and precision. All while improving fine motor control and critical-thinking skills.

What you need

  • Two coins and a table (or any other smooth, flat surface with edges)
discover story image coin bash game
Top Tip:
Even things up for players of different ages by giving the older one fewer flicks to hit the coin. And, if you’re feeling confident, change the rules so you have to knock your opponent’s coin off the table rather than just hit it.
  • Step 1

    The players sit or stand at either end of the table, each with their coin on the table in front of them.
  • Step 2

    Player 1 tries to flick their coin to hit their opponent’s coin at the other end of the table.
  • Step 3

    If they hit, they get a point. If they miss, they don’t.
  • Step 4

    The coins are then re-positioned at either end of the table and play passes to Player 2.
  • Step 5

    The winner is whoever reaches five hits (or whatever number you like depending on how much time you have!) first.

6 - Go Digital

This one isn’t an activity in its own right but it’s a great way to put a new twist on any game. When building a LEGO train track, playing make-believe or doing anything else with your children, why not grab your phone and film it? Then, together, you can use the footage to create your own short film, stop motion video or super-slow-mo action replay. You could even create your own film trailer.

Fluid Play

For kids today, merging digital and real-world play is as natural as mixing French Fries with Tomato Ketchup. So, rather than focus only on ‘traditional’ play, join in! Used the right way, technology can take the game (and the fun!) to a whole new level. Plus, it’s great for developing all kinds of useful 21st century skills like technology literacy, creativity, collaboration and communication. Give it a try – neither you nor your kids will regret it!

7 - Guess The Bricks

A quick and easy guessing game to play anywhere. And, OK, you don’t have to use LEGO bricks but we’d love it if you did! Either way, it’s a fun way for kids to boost their counting, strategic-thinking and maths skills.

What you need

  • Three small LEGO bricks (or something else little enough to fit in a hand) per player.
Top Tip:
If playing with a mix of ages, get the little ones involved by letting them say a number before everyone then hide the matching amount of bricks.
  • Step 1

    Give every player three LEGO bricks.
  • Step 2

    Keeping their hands concealed, each player decides how many bricks to keep in their closed fist. Anything from zero to three.
  • Step 3

    On the count of three, all players put their closed hands in the middle, still not revealing how many bricks are in their hand.
  • Step 4

    Players take it in turns to guess how many bricks are in everyone’s hands combined (including their own). No two players can guess the same number.
  • Step 5

    Once everyone has guessed, players open their hands to reveal the answer. Whoever’s right or closest gets a point.
  • Step 6

    Repeat, changing the order each time so everyone has a chance to guess first.

8 - Beat The Clock

Get creative against the clock with a LEGO building time trial. What can you make before the seconds run out? Great for gross motor skills, creativity and working under pressure – as well as learning the time.

What you need

  • LEGO bricks or LEGO DUPLO bricks – either at home or in a small box that fits in a bag when you’re out and about.
Top Tip:
This is great for journeys or restaurants as you don’t need much space. If there’s a third person with you, let them be the judge, marking each creation out of 10. Or for younger kids, just let them build along with you for fun.
  • Step 1

    Choose your bricks and find a place to sit down – wherever you are.
  • Step 2

    Player 2 then sets Player 1 a challenge to build something in the agreed time limit.
  • Step 3

    This could be something chosen by Player 2, like a house or car. Or it could be something from Player 1’s imagination.
  • Step 4

    When time’s up, Player 1 stops building and reveals what they made.
  • Step 5

    Now it’s Player 2’s turn…